Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wolfskin featuring Last Industrial Estate : Stonegate of Silence – Dark ambient

The first tones on this cd are unmistakably electronic, and they're not meant to be any different. I like that. The willingness to utilize the artificial nature of electronic music as a strength is something that sets this album apart from most other music in the genre. Despite this clearly electronic setting the music retains the organic basis of most dark ambient. The cover image says it all basically.

The press release lists the genre as cinematic isolationism, and that description is as good as any. The oppressive mood on this album makes me think of Shutter Island. Not the film so much as the setting, that is, a mental hospital on an island isolated by a storm, seemingly there is something terrible going on and noone is willing to address it. The drawn out melodies are intensely dark and frightening and would be a perfect score for a black and white Jan Swankmajer adaptation of any number of the stories Kafka didn't dare to write down for fear of losing touch with reality. That's a film I'd love to see, and this is the music that should accompany it.

While the album might end up drowning in the sheer amount of dark ambient that is released these days it certainly deserves any attention this review can muster up for it. This is an excellent collaboration, and it makes me want to delve into both of the projects behind it (or Projekt4, which is the most commonly used alias for the individual behind Last Industrial Estate). Sadly however, this is announced as the final Wolfskin album, after fifteen years of activity...

Each little sound is allowed its own space in order to carefully construct an atmosphere. There is no overuse of anything, and nothing is muffled in any way. The balance between the various frequencies is quite simply perfect. The various instruments and samples that have been chosen are all just right and nothing stands out or disturbs the whole at any point. I especially like the way the extremely deep bass drums are just right, and adds a feeling of somber anticipation to the music. This only serves to accentuate the melodies higher up in the sonic range.

Portugal/Sweden(?), CD album, 2010, Malignant records,

1 Arrival [6:01]
2 Metaphysical [8:41]
3 Stonegates of Silence [15:24]
4 Criogenic [8:31]
5 Amidst the infinite skies [12:49]

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Yen Pox : Blood Music – Dark Ambient

Reviewed by Gird_09

The music on this double album was originally released back in the nineties, and is released with bonus material now. It contains a remastered version of the original "blood music", as well as several tracks that were either unreleased or released on other recordings. Everything in a really tasteful eight panel digipack of high quality and design.

Blood music is a dark ambient classic, and it's easy to hear why. The landscaped music is dark and cram packed with atmospheric oddments and scraps of discarded civilization, with a heavy emphasis on the ambient aspects. There is nothing intrusive about the album, and the moods are the consistent focus throughout.

The music is mostly composed of long stretches of multi layered sounds with shit loads of reverb and a nearly tactile surface. Instruments are used in a sparing minimalist way to accentuate the atmospheres rather than drawing attention to more musical elements. As such portions of the music isn't music in the traditional sense, but an emulation of an astral field recording of melancholy – and a very succesful one at that.

The tracks are nearly impossible to separate with regards to composition and arrangement and make up a single (holistic) experience. That is a major bonus to me. As the album is slowly dying as a medium for artists I notice more and more that musicians are incapable of composing anything besides collections of single tracks. Albums should be about artistic consistency and themes, and this one is. Accomplishing a true album is often what separates the artists from the dilettantes – atleast to me. The bonus tracks are of course different from the original album, but that doesn't reduce the feeling of consistency discernably. Some of them are dirtier sounding and noisier, but in way does this decrease the focus on mood.

Of the two discs number two is for the most part great deal edgier than the first disc, and the way I see it also the most interesting of the two. It's more primitive and rough sounding, which sets it apart from most dark ambient these days - as well as disc one. In a way this makes it darker, and certainly much less soothing. The reason is of course that the material is older than the tracks on disc one.

There are few things that detract from my listening experience however. First of all it's too bloody long. There isn't much happening here, and that can be a little boring over two full discs. Unless you're a collector it's simply too much. Secondly it's not necessarily the most original of albums. The execution is impeccable, but I do miss more personality here. As background music it's excellent, but it's not music that stays with you after it's over. However that's probably not the point either. If you want a great background album while you're working or reading, or just relaxing: get it. It's perfect, and there's not really much more to say about that. Otherwise it's not going to knock you out of your socks.

USA, 2010, 2xCD album, Malignant Records,

Disc 1
1 Infinite Domain [13:28]
2 Twilight Eternal [10:21]
3 Purgatorio [8:55]
4 Descent [13:01]
5 Illuminate [10:51]
6 Absolute Zero [12:52]
7 Beneath the Sun [8:37]

Disc 2
1 Dervish [13:45}
2 Suction [13:19]
3 Head Shot [15:14]
4 Thin | Empty [6:21]
5 Virus [6:34]
6 Hollow Earth [7:03]
7 Summerskin [10:02]

Monday, December 6, 2010

Emme Ya – Beyond The secret Flame, The Aiwass Manifesto : Dark Ambient / Ritual / Occult

Emme Ya is quite evidently a deep well of thelemic references. Occult in every meaning of the word. In a way the music can be compared to walking in a vast and well lit complex of marble hallways, scattered with symbols, statuary and sacred geometry. Everything is a representation of something else, and that again represents something different - as it should be.

From the very beginning I get the distinct feeling that this music reminds me of something, but I have no idea what. I've never heard anything like it. It's hallucinogenic, ritualistic, entrancing, unsettling and suggestive to the point of being hypnotic. My only guess is that it's triggered some deeply buried memories of something I've experienced under self hypnosis or a strange genetic memory. The music feels like home, but a home I've never been to before. The first track makes me feel like I'm lying under an endless carpet of stars, which is perfect for Nuit – and a pretty stark contrast to staring at the nuclear furnace that is Hadit (track 2) and even more so the scorching rays of Heru-Ra Ha (track 3).

Writing a review that explains both the type of music and the contents of that music is next to impossible. Gone are the dark drones and distorted soundscapes we usually think of when we hear the words "dark ambient", and in their place we have something that sounds like a blend of the Psychick Warriors ov Gaia and the trippier moments Pink Floyd, coming down after an unwitting experiment with "brown acid" and then a smattering of Etant Donnes. It's dark and primitive, but still manages to feel safe and warm in some strange way. Images of flames and shadows against a cave wall comes to mind, and the various rythmic implements used on the album underscores this feeling perfectly.

I do wish the voices were more audible however. While the muffled quality adds to the dream like atmosphere I feel that being able to make out more of the lyrics would benefit the listening experience. What little I can make out sounds like fragments from the Book of the Law, whose structures this release also mimics.

I guess you could say that my reaction is: intrigued, curious and I want to hear more. Much more.

Colombia, CD album, The Mercurius Collective, 2010

1 The Secret Flame (The Dance ov Nuit) 15:51
2 The Coiled Serpent (The Invisible light of Hadit) 17:13
3 The Throne of Power (The Mask of Heru Ra-Ha) 17:59